|From the first beat, her commitment and pinpoint focus was total. Her swift stick work, and the range of changing textures she continually projected from her kit was astonishing, and it drew the audience right in.
In the front line, tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen was all poise and yearning as he navigated Blackman's pulsing energy waves in the company of Carlton Holmes' fleet singing keyboards and the firm underscoring patterns of bassist George Mitchell.
The band's two sets of modal tunes many sounded like Asian chants essentially served as launching pads for Blackman's ceaselessly inventive and highly reactive drums.
But because of Blackman's strong compositional sense I kept thinking of Tony Williams the tunes never became shallow excuses for drum solos; in fact, the malleable tunes kept inspiring new shapes, lines, rhythms, textures, and tempos from all four players.
J.D. Allen's beautiful tenor tone (think Charles Lloyd) imparted a positive and lucid gleam to the proceedings; pianist Holmes' high chiming lines kept reminding me of the late and great Hilton Ruiz; and leader Cindy Blackman's exciting interactions made for two undeniably dynamite sets.